Thursday Practice Report

KNOXVILLE - With the exception of Saturday's Orange and White Game, spring practice 2005 is in the books. Head Coach Phillip Fulmer saw plenty of action he liked on the field. However, the overwhelming theme of late is what's been going on away from the gridiron.

"Most of the problems we've had are with young guys who mistake being a man with fisticuffs," Fulmer said. "Where they're from that may be the way that everything's established. The culture's different here."

However, Fulmer doesn't think the recent problems plaguing the Tennessee football program are limited to just the players on the team. He believes they have a much broader scope.

"I think it's a national issue," Fulmer said. "I'm going to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but it's true. There's violence in the music and there's violence in the video games. More than likely these kids grew up with one parent or none. They may have seen things at home that they think is the norm and this is how you do things. They haven't had too many people hug their necks, love them, and care about them."

When asked if he anticipated on taking away playing time from guilty offenders, Fulmer responded with the following: "I don't want to be backed into a corner on that," Fulmer said. "It punishes everybody including the coaches and the fans. If that's what it comes to-they've got us now where you can't take a scholarship or you can't take them out of the dorm."

Fulmer had this to say when asked if he would kick a player off the team in order to set an example: "If it was your son you probably wouldn't like that," Fulmer said. "It's easy to say but it's not easy to do. Whether he's a third team guard or a first team whatever you want to be fair and take each circumstance as it is. If it's significant enough we'll address it. We've changed a lot of attitudes here. Some you can't save."

Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel might be one of the players Fulmer can't save. His name was inauspiciously left off of the most recent depth chart. His assault case was just handed over to a grand jury yesterday.

"He's in a situation where I'm not sure what his status is," said Fulmer. "Until we get through the legal issues I don't have the answer to that."

On the other side of the coin, Fulmer stands behind Jerod Mayo who was charged with assault on Tuesday.

"Jerod didn't do anything," Fulmer said."Whoever got it, got it wrong."

When advised that it was former player who witnessed the scuffle Mayo is alleged to have taken part in, Fulmer responded with this: "He's wrong. I told him at the time he was wrong. He might have thought he saw something and that's the whole thing of the whole deal. A lot of people thought they saw things."

It's no secret that Fulmer is heavily entrenched at UT. He played in the seventies. He was an assistant in the eighties and nineties. He‚s been the head coach for nearly fourteen years. It'‚s his history at the school that makes him take some of the recent activity a little more personally then some might think.

"I'm not just passing through here," Fulmer said. "This is my school. I've been here a long time. I take great pride in what we do on and off the field. As I said, it starts with me. Either they've got to respect you enough to stay out of those circumstances. You're always going to have some. It's not a perfect world."

As for the news pertaining to what's happening on the field, Fulmer indicated that the starters would be on the field for about 20 plays on Saturday. He mentioned that nobody who was healthy would be held out. However, expect all of the top quarterbacks and receivers to wear green no-contact jerseys.

On the injury front, Fulmer believes Cameron Mayo and David Holbert are the only players in danger of not being ready for the fall.

Fulmer did indicate that there was a glimmer of hope for Richie Gandy who is coming back from a torn ACL.

"His was real simple," Fulmer said. "It was just one little thing on the side. When you compare them, him versus Antwan (Stewart's) is night and day. Antwan had a lot to do but he's doing much better."

In the secondary, Corey Campbell seems to be making some good strides.

"Corey Campbell was deep in the doghouse," Fulmer said. "He's worked himself back to a position where he can be counted on. He closed some of that gap back up."

It's almost official that a starting quarterback won't be named until the fall. For the second consecutive year, the Vols won't know who's calling the shots until the season is nearly underway. Yet, that notion doesn't seem to concern Fulmer.

"They responded real well last year and I would expect that they would respond this year," Fulmer said. "It's a different situation last year. We didn't have anybody that played any significant snaps. This year we have three that have all played and won pretty big ball games. I like this situation a whole lot better. The cream will come to the top as it always does."

Fulmer isn't counting out the possibility of rotating signal callers either. However, according to Fulmer one separating himself from the pack would be the ideal situation.

"I'm more inclined to settle on one if we can," Fulmer said. "If we can't and it gives us a better chance, the main thing is who's got the most points and however we can do that."

Finally, Steve Spurrier has only been back in the league for a couple of months. He hasn't wasted any time in taking his first few shots at Tennessee either. Spurrier quipped about the Vols off the field troubles earlier this week.

Obviously the word has gotten back to Fulmer. "He's got his own business to take care of," Fulmer said. "He's got plenty to do. Maybe it rained that day and he didn't get to play golf."


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